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Fleet Activities Yokosuka Naval Base athletic director Kyle Rhodus leads a very busy life, part of which includes serving as commissioner of the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League.

Fleet Activities Yokosuka Naval Base athletic director Kyle Rhodus leads a very busy life, part of which includes serving as commissioner of the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League. (Dave Ornauer / S&S)

Kyle Rhodus runs the biggest, busiest Naval athletics department in the Pacific, for Fleet Activities at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan.

That’s just his day job. Rhodus also is in his second year as the commissioner of the U.S. Forces Japan-American Football League. He helps coach Nathan Brewster with the Nile C. Kinnick High School boys basketball team, bowls in two leagues and plays basketball daily. Then there’s his marriage and 2-year-old son.

He also plays in three fantasy football leagues. One of them — the U.S. Forces Japan Fantasy Football League — he runs himself.

And somewhere, he also acquired a firm grasp of the fine art of understatement.

“I have no days,” Rhodus said, “when I wake up and wonder what I’m going to do today. On a professional level, on a personal level, I stay busy.”

The 31-year-old from the Florida Keys, formed a 12-team fantasy league during his stint as athletics director at Sasebo Naval Base in southwestern Japan.

When he moved to Yokosuka 3½ years ago, “it became a half-Sasebo, half-Yokosuka league,” Rhodus said. And there’s a waiting list to join, so to speak, so when someone leaves the Pacific, the league has a replacement.

“As people PCS, we fill their spots with people waiting,” Rhodus said.

“This year we have three rookies.”

Rhodus has enjoyed success, winning the league three times, including last year.

He draws on knowledge he says he gleaned running fantasy baseball leagues in high school.

“I used to do all the stats myself,” he said.

Football leagues, Rhodus said, are much easier in which to take part, and to run, because the NFL season involves only 16 games and college football 12. Baseball teams play 162 games; and NBA teams play 82.

“You only have to check your team and change your lineup once a week,” Rhodus said. “Baseball and basketball you have to check every day.”

Being a league commissioner is not as labor-intensive as it might seem, he said. If using a Web-based league, as does the USFJ-FFL, much of the work involves setup, coordinating sign-ups and rule-making at the start.

“Once that’s done, it’s monitoring trades and decision-making, but the Web-based server takes care of the scoring, records, that kind of stuff,” Rhodus said.

After the season has begun, “My job is to keep integrity of the league, step in when somebody drops a player who shouldn’t be dropped, if a trade looks one-sided, then I have to make those kind of decisions,” he said.

The single big issue Rhodus says he faces as league commissioner is ensuring that all members keep their interest.

“Sometimes, a few guys might lose interest … and they don’t submit a lineup for the last four or five weeks.

“If you find a bunch of competitive guys who are in it to the end, you’re good to go. You drop those who aren’t and replace them with people you know are going to be competitive the next season.”

George Williams won the league two years ago, and can vouch for the competitive nature of the league.

“That was the most difficult year, that was my second year playing with Kyle,” Williams said. “Everybody, all the teams were actively participating. It required more strategy; you had fewer elite players to choose from. That year and the year before were the most competitive years.”

Six of the members have been in the league since the beginning, which helps breed the competitiveness.

And they’re extremely competitive at times, Rhodus said, if the league’s message board is any indication.

“We have incessant trash-talkers, especially those who are doing well,” he said. “It can get mean-spirited from time to time, but it’s all in fun when it’s all said and done.”

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Dave Ornauer has been employed by or assigned to Stars and Stripes Pacific almost continuously since March 5, 1981. He covers interservice and high school sports at DODEA-Pacific schools and manages the Pacific Storm Tracker.

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